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Welcome! » Faculty & Staff » Gordon Burghardt


Gordon Burghardt

Research Interests

Chemoreception in snakes; predatory behavior; heritability of learned behavior; evolution of playfulness.

Research statement

Our research focuses on the relationship between genetics and early environments in the development of behavior patterns and sensory processes. We concentrate on natricine snakes and constricting snakes as models, and feeding, defensive, and social behavior as the target systems. Comparing molecular genetics, behavior, and morphology across populations, especially island systems, is frequently employed. Vomeronasal chemoreception, highly elaborated in snakes, is the sensory system typically studied. We have found that neonatal snakes are highly precocious in both the sensory and behavioral sophistication of their responses prior to functional experience. However, we can manipulate experience to uncover details of ecological and comparative adaptation, including geographic variation. We are also studying multiple paternity, heritability of learning, and brain imaging in snakes. The role of environmental enrichment on brain and behavior in reptiles is being studied. Finally, play is a key characteristic of endothermic vertebrates that may underlie the success of our species. We have developed and are testing a theoretical and comparative approach to play behavior throughout the vertebrates.

Honors

  • Fellow, American Psychological Association
  • Fellow, American Psychological Society
  • Fellow, Animal Behavior Society
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Editor, Journal of Comparative Psychology
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
  • Editorial Board, Ethology
  • Editorial Board, Society and Animals
  • Editorial Board, Evolutionary Psychology
  • Scientific Advisory Board, International Iguana Society
  • UTK Macebearer
  • UTK James R. Cox Professor
  • UTK Science Alliance Faculty
  • UTK Distinguished Service Professor

Grants

  • National Science Foundation Research Grant (1993-95)
  • Professional Development Award, University of Tennessee (2000)

Selected Publications

Graham, K.L., & Burghardt, G.M. Current perspectives on the biological study of play: signs of progress. Quarterly Review of Biology, 2010, 85. 393-418.

Kuba, M., Bryne, R., & Burghardt, G. M. Introducing a new method to study problem solving and tool use in fresh water stingrays, Potamotrygon castexi. Animal Cognition, 2010, 13, 507-513.

Hansknecht, K. A. & Burghardt, G. M. Stimulus control of lingual predatory luring and related foraging tactics of Mangrove Saltmarsh Snakes (Nerodia clarkii compressicauda). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 2010, 124, 159-165.

Burghardt, G. M. The comparative reach of play and brain: Perspective, evidence, and implications. American Journal of Play, 2010, 2, 338-356.

Wusterbarth, T. R., King, R. B., Duvall, M. R., Grayburn, W. S., & Burghardt, G. M. Phylogenetically widespread multiple paternity in New World natricine snakes. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 2010, 5, 86-93.

Burghardt, G. M. Consummatory acts. In The Encyclopedia Of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare (D. S. Mills, J. N. Marchant-Forde, P. D. McGreevy, D. B. Morton, C. J. Nicol, C. J. C. Phillips, P. Sandøe, & R. R. Swaisgood (eds.) CABI, Wallingford, UK, 2010, 134-135.

Burghardt, G. M. Reptiles. In The Encyclopedia Of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare (D. S. Mills, J. N. Marchant-Forde, P. D. McGreevy, D. B. Morton, C. J. Nicol, C. J. C. Phillips, P. Sandøe, & R. R. Swaisgood (eds.) CABI, Wallingford, UK, 2010, 523-524.

Burghardt, G.M. Critical anthropomorphism. In Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare (M. Bekoff, Ed.) 2nd Ed., Greenwood Press, Santa Barbara, CA, 2010, 1, 73-74.

Burghardt, G.M. Reptiles. In Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare (M. Bekoff, Ed.) 2nd Ed., Greenwood Press, Santa Barbara, CA, 2010, 2, 485-487.

Burghardt, G.M. Play. In Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (M.D. Breed and J. Moore, Eds) Academic Press, Oxford, UK, 2010, 2, 740-744.

Burghardt, G.M. Development of modern animal behavior: 1920-1973. In Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (M.D. Breed and J. Moore, Eds) Academic Press, Oxford, UK, 2010, 1, 340-344.

Burghardt, G.M. recapturing childhood by recasting Christianity. Review of Becoming God’s Children: Religion’s Infantilizing Process (M.D. Faber, 2010). PsycCRITIQUES (APA) November 24, 2010.

Burghardt, G. M. Review of Wild Justice (M. Bekoff & J. Pierce, 2009) in American Journal of Play, 2010, 2, 376-378.

Burghardt, G. M. Don’t Cry at the Cremation. Review of On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction (Brian Boyd, 2009) in The Evolutionary Review. Vol. 1, SUNY Press, 2010, 1, 131-134.

Burghardt, G. M. Updating genesis on the origins of human knowledge. Review of The Fruit, The Tree, and the Serpent: Why We See So Well (L. A. Isbell, 2009) in PsycCRITIQUES (APA) June 2, 2010, Vol. 55, Release 22, Article 2

Burghardt, G. M. Review of three books on evolution and religion. Reviews of The Faith Instinct. How Religion Evolved and Why it Matters (N. Wade, 2009), The Evolution of Religion: Studies, Theories, and Critiques (J. Bulbulia, R. Sosis, E. Harris, R. Genet, & K. Wyman, eds., 2008), and The biology of Religious Behavior. The Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion (R. Feirerman, ed.) in Politics and Culture, 2010 (April 28). http://www.politicsandculture.org/2010/04/28/contents-2/.

Burghardt, G. M. Review of two books on snakes. Reviews of Them that Believe. The Power and Meaning of the Christian Serpent-Handling Tradition (R. W. Hood, Jr. & W, P. Williamson, 2008) and The Fruit, The Tree, and the Serpent: Why We See So Well (L. A. Isbell, 2009) in Politics and Culture, 2010 (April 28). http://www.politicsandculture.org/2010/04/28/contents-2/

Burghardt, G. M. Review of The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings (D. Lancy, 2008) in Play Review, 2010, 33, 7-8.

Reichenbach, N., Barrie, M., Becka, K., Burghardt, G., Butterworth, S., Caldwell, C., Dierkes, F., Johantgen, P., Stanford, K., & Wynn, D. (2010) Ohio conservation plan: Plains gartersnake, Thamnophis radix. Ohio Division of Wildlife, Columbus, OH, 27 p.

Burghardt, G. M. A message from Division 6 President Gordon Burghardt. The Behavioral Neuroscientist and Comparative Psychologist. 2010, 25(2), 1-5.

Burghardt, G. M. Darwin’s legacy to comparative psychology and ethology. American Psychologist, 2009, 64, 102-110.

Burghardt, G. M., Murphy, J. B., Chiszar, D., & Hutchins, M. Combating ophiophobia: Origins, treatment, education and conservation tools. In Snakes: Ecology and Conservation (S. Mullin and R. Seigel, eds.). Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 2009, 262-280.

Burghardt, G. M. & Bekoff, M. Animal consciousness. In Oxford Companion to Consciousness (A. Cleeremans & T. Bayne, eds.). Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2009, 39-43.

Burghardt, G. M. Foreword. The Playful Brain; Venturing to the limits of Neuroscience (S. Pellis & V. Pellis). Oneworld Publications, Oxford, UK, 2009, ix-xi.

Burghardt, G. M. Play and evolution. In Encyclopedia of Play in Today’s Society (R. P. Carlisle & J. G. Golson, eds.). Sage Publications, 2009, vol. 2, Thousand Oaks, CA, 489-491. 

Burghardt, G. M. Play as interspecies communication.  In Encyclopedia of Play in Today’s Society (R. P. Carlisle & J. G. Golson, eds.). Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2009, Vol. 2, 511-513. 

Burghardt, G. M. Surplus resource theory. In Encyclopedia of Play in Today’s Society (R. P. Carlisle & J. G. Golson, eds.). Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2009, vol. 2, 689-690. 

Burghardt, G. M. Ethics and animal consciousness: How rubber the ethical ruler?  Journal of Social Issues, 2009, 65, 499-521.

Burghardt, G. M. Consummatory acts. In The Encyclopedia Of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare , (D. S. Mills, ed.) CABI, Wallingford, UK (2009).

Burghardt, G. M. Reptiles. In The Encyclopedia Of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare , (D. S. Mills, ed.) CABI, Wallingford, UK (2009).

Burghardt, G. M. The insidious snake. In Courting the Wild: Love Affairs with Reptiles and Amphibians (J. K. Reaser, ed.). Hiraeth Press, San Franciso, CA, 2009, 33-38.

Burghardt, G. M. (2008).  Cognitive ethology. In Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy (J. B. Callicott & R. Frodeman, eds.). Gale (Macmillan Reference), Farmington, MI, 2008, Vol. 1, 156-159.

Mori, A. & Burghardt, G. M.  (2008).  Comparative experimental tests of natricine antipredator displays, with special reference to the apparently unique displays in the Asian genus, Rhabdophis. Journal of Ethology, 26, 61-68.
 
Mehta, R. & Burghardt, G. M. (2008).  Contextual flexibility: Reassessing the effects of prey size and status on prey restraint behaviour of macrostomate snakes. Ethology, 114, 133-145.

Manrod, J. D., Hartdegen, R., & Burghardt, G. M. (2008).  Rapid solving of a problem apparatus by juvenile black-throated monitor lizards (Varanus albigularis albigularis). Animal Cognition, 11, 267-263.

Burghardt, G. M. The sun always rises: Scientists need semantics, too.  Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31, 133-134.

Burghardt, G. M. (2008).  Evolutionary psychology and the origins of play. The General Psychologist, 43(2), 6-11.

Burghardt, G. M. (2008).  The origins of play and some implications. iP-D!P (For Professionals in Play), 5, i-iv.

Fitzpatrick, B. M., Placyk, J. S., Niemiller, M. L., Casper, G. S., & Burghardt G. M. (2008).  Distinctiveness in the face of gene flow: Hybridization between specialist and generalist gartersnakes. Molecular Ecology, 17, 4107-4117.

Burghardt, G. M. (2008).  Updating von Uexküll: New directions in communication research. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 122, 332-334.

Burghardt, G. M. (2008).  Review of Play for a Change – Play, Policy and Practice: A Review of Contemporary Perspectives (S. Lester & W. Russell, 2008). In Play Today, 64(Nov.), 18.

Benjamin M. Fitzpatrick, B. M. Casper, G. S., Placyk, J. S., Jr., Neimiller, M. L., Kirk, D., Burghardt, G. M. (2008).  Analysis of the genetic status of populations in the zone of overlap between Thamnophis butleri and Thamnophis radix based on AFLP analysis. Technical contract report, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Madison, 18 pp.

Hutchinson, D. A., Mori, A., Savitsky, A. H., Burghardt, G. M., Wu, X., Meinwald, J., & Schroeder, F. C.  Dietary sequestration of defensive steroids in nuchal glands of the Asian snake Rhabdophis tigrinus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2007, 104, 2265-2270.

Placyk, J. S., Burghardt, G. M. Small, R. L. King, R. B., Casper, G. S., Robinson, J. W. Post-glacial recolonization of the Great Lakes region by the common gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) inferred from mtDNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 2007, 43, 452-467.

Krause, M. A. & Burghardt, G. M. Sexual dimorphism of body and relative head sizes in neonatal common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis). Journal of Zoology, 2007, 272, 156-164.

Davis, K. & Burghardt, G. M. Training and long-term memory of a novel food acquisition task in a turtle Pseudemys nelsoni). Behavioural Processes, 2007, 75, 225-230.

Burghardt, G. M. Critical anthropomorphism, uncritical anthropocentrism, and naïve nominalism. Comparative Cognition and Behavior Reviews, 2007, 2, 136-138.

Rivas, J. A., Muñoz, M. C., Thorbjarnarson, J. B., Burghardt, G. M., Holmstrom, W., & Calle, P.  Natural history of the green anaconda in the Venezuelan llanos. In Biology of the Boas and Pythons. (R. W. Henderson & R. Powell, eds.), Eagle Mountain Publishing Company, Eagle Mountain, CO, 2007, 128-138.

Rivas, J. A. Muñoz, M. C., Burghardt, G. M. & Thorbjarnarson, J. B. Sexual size dimorphism and the mating system of the Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus). In Biology of the Boas and Pythons. (R. W. Henderson & R. Powell, eds.), Eagle Mountain Publishing Company, Eagle Mountain, CO, 2007, 312-325.

Burghardt, G. M.  (2006).  Money, play, and instincts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29,182-183.

Burghardt, G. M. (2006).  Editorial. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 120, 77-78.

Aubret, F., Burghardt, G. M., Maumelet, S., Bonnet, X., & Bradshaw, D. (2006).  Feeding preferences in two disjunct populations of tiger snakes, Notechis scutatus (Elapidae). Behavioral Ecology, 17, 716-725.

Almli, L. & Burghardt, G. M. (2006).  Environmental enrichment alters the behavioral profile of ratsnakes (Elaphe) Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 9, 85-109.

Burghardt, G. M., Placyk, J. S., Casper, G. S., Small, R. L., & Taylor, K. (2006).  Genetic Structure of Great Lakes Region Thamnophis butleri and Thamnophis radix based on mtDNA Sequence Data: Conservation Implications for Wisconsin Butler’s Gartersnake. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison WI (2006).

Burghardt, G. M. (2006).  A rebellious revolution. Review of The Robot's Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin (K. E. Stanovich, 2004) in Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE), 21, 537-538.

Burghardt, G. M. (2006).  A pleasurable feast. Review of Pleasurable Kingdom (J. Balcombe, 2006) in Journal of Animal Welfare Science, 9, 257-258.

Burghardt, G. M. (2005) The Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Waters, R. M. & Burghardt, G. M. (2005) The interaction of food motivation and experience in the ontogeny of chemoreception in crayfish snakes. Animal Behaviour, 2005, 69, 363-374.

Placyk, J. S. & Burghardt, G. M. (2005) Geographic variation in the frequency of scarring and tail stubs in eastern garter snakes (Thamnophis s. sirtalis) from Michigan, USA. Amphibia-Reptilia, 26, 353-358 .

Andreadis, P. A. & Burghardt, G. M. (2005) Unlearned appetite controls: Snakes take smaller meals when they have the choice. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 119, 304-310.

Herzog, H. A. & Burghardt, G. M. (2005) The next frontier: Moral Heuristics and the treatment of animals. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28, 554-555.

Rivas, J. A. & Burghardt, G. M. (2005) Snake mating systems: The revisionary implications of recent findings. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 119, 447-454.

Burghardt, G. M. (2005) Review of “Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection” (D. Blum, 2002) in Ethology, 111, 878-879.

Burghardt, G.M. (2004) Anthropomorphism. In M. Bekoff (Ed.). Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (Vol. 1). (pp 40-45). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Burghardt, G.M. (2004). Iguana research: Looking back and looking forward. In A,C, Alberts, R.L. Carter, W.K. Hayes, & E.P. Martins (Eds). Iguanas: Biology and Conservation (pp 1-12). Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press.

Burghardt, G.M. (2004). Play and the brain in comparative perspective. In R. Clements & L. Fiorentino, (Eds.). The Child’s Right to Play: A Global Approach (pp 293-308). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Burghardt, G.M. (2004). Play: How evolution can explain the most mysterious behavior of all. In A. Moya and E. Font (Eds), Evolution: From Molecules to Ecosystems (pp 231-246). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Burghardt, G.M. & Zippel, K. (2004). Amphibian Behavior. In A. Odum & K. Zippel (Eds). Amphibian Biology and Management. (pp 1-20). Silver Spring, MD: American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

Mori, A., & Burghardt, G.M. (2004). Thermal effects on antipredator behaviour of snakes: A review and proposed terminology. Herpetological Journal, 2004, 79-87.

Gordon Burghardt

Gordon Burghardt

Professor
Ph.D., University of Chicago (1966)

Email: gburghar@utk.edu
Web site: http://web.utk.edu/~gburghar/ Phone: (865) 974-3300

Key words: Behavioral development and plasticity, behavioral evolution, chemoreception, play, comparative psychology, ethology, finding food and avoiding predators, genetics, lizards, snakes, turtles